April 21, 2020

Current Information on the Impact of COVID-19 on K-12 Districts

A personal message from EH&A Founder and President Eric Hall

We are in our 6th week of sheltering in place, and the 5th consecutive week of schools closed, due to the pandemic (really? Wow!). I continue to offer you my support and my thoughts on the impacts of the pandemic on our colleagues and clients. I want to keep you informed and I hope these updates are helpful to you. The references and updates are provided to our clients and Associates in the spirit of having everyone on the same page in our understanding of the K-12 challenges. These are certainly not easy times.

Living with less will be the new focus for K-12 school districts. School leaders will need help in managing human resources, allocating budgets, discovering lost revenues, and managing facility and bond programs. Additionally, school reopening, reorganization, consolidation, and repurposing will become a hot topic. I predict all of us will have plenty of work to do as the virus recedes and we will be as busy as ever.

On a personal note, my wife Laurie and I continue to shelter in place at home. We are walking or riding most every day and seem to be watching more movies as well. Time management becomes a valuable skill as I am sure you have discovered. While working at home, we continue to support our adult children, who are first responders, by tending to our beautiful grandchildren 2 to 3 days a week. In helping and watching them manage the challenges of remote learning, we have new respect and insights to the tough job of instruction. The educational experience with our grandchildren has been eye opening. We have also seen firsthand the challenges faced by our daughter who teaches special education. We have a new perspective on what teachers are faced with during this pandemic. We can only image the greater challenges faced by single parents working at home.

I offer you the following articles and references revealing the depth of the impact brought about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on K-12 Districts…

General District Guidance and Support
I obtained a copy of the very insightful San Diego County Office of Education white paper on the topic of COVID-19 planning and recommendations(attached). Check it out. You will be impressed with the amount of strategic thinking and ongoing efforts deployed by our colleagues.

Returning to School: Things Will Look Different
During the last week the discussion of “opening back up” has begun and the concept of schools operating with social distancing has come to the forefront. Governor Newsom discussed students returning to school, possibly in the fall and how operations will need to be different.

San Diego Unified Explores How Schools Will Likely Open Gradually

Budget Impacts
Districts experienced increased operational costs and declining enrollment before the pandemic. The economic impact of CORVID-19 will include a significant drop in state revenues and a raise in pension costs. In this article, our friends at SSC review the economic impacts of COVID-19 and advise districts to hope for the best, but to plan for the worst.

Food Services
Without a moment’s notice, districts have pivoted from a prepare and serve program to a Grab and Go Food Pantry/Bank Program. Every district I talk with is managing an increase in demand, dealing with this challenge creatively and with the diligence and courage of their food services heroes. As this article about LAUSD reveals, districts are serving many more meals to students and the community.

Passion and Creativity
This video is inspiring to me and shows the creativity and the passion of educators. Luci Rodgers, CBO at Coalinga-Huron USD sent this to me and said: “As you probably know, we are a small rural district with 90{310f4324ad65b0a2030a48dd153b38f905c81f5512720fdadc65be8f0797b958} free/reduced lunch. Our students need this to lift their spirits -school being closed is especially hard on them.” The teachers and staff perform and sing “We are your teachers/we are your counselors/we are your principals….” to the tune of “We Are the World.” Give it a look.

I hope you have a great week. I hope these references keep you refreshed on school district operations and impacts. I enjoy hearing from so many of you and seeing you in the virtual world. But I am looking forward to seeing each of you again face to face. Stay safe and be well; this too shall pass!

 

Eric J. Hall
EH&A Founder/President